tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC February 9, 2012 2:00pm-3:00pm PST
independence through efficiency and get out of the kwaug mieer of the fuel source debate. e we talked about hot spotting. we talked about education. well form a remarkable coalition including ben chavez and russell simmons to discuss hot spotting crime with david kennedy and his campaign that tells people don't shoot each other. that does it for us. i'm dylan ratigan. "hardball" with chris matthews kicks off right now. wars of religion. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading up tonight, birth control, religion, and politics. republicans are brilliantly turning the hhs decision on the church and birth control into a wedge issue. something that unites your side and divides the opposition.
and democrats are divided. some of them peeling off to oppose president obama. it's a debate about women's health, but it's also about religious freedom. and the white house needs a way to solve this problem and soon. but here's how off the charts crazy this debate has gotten. republicans once accused president obama of being an accolade of a christian minister, jeremiah wright. later he was accused of being a secret muslim. now republicans charge obama with attempting to destroy all religion. rick santorum, for example, said last night we're headed for the french revolution and the guillotine. you might say republicans are losing their heads on this issue. how frenchy are the republicans? how wild has their party become? mr. guillotine himself may be the biggest threat to mitt romney. "the wall street journal" said today concethey don't trust him. now president obama's first
three years in office. he joins us here tonight. finally dual explosions. one against romney and the other against the birth control ruling, even among democrats themselves. we start with that story. john heilemann, national affairs editor for "new york magazine." and susan page, a great bureau chief. let's talk about this thing that's developed. late this afternoon, president obama couldn't escape questions about this contraceptive issue and religious organizations. let's listen to what happened. >> come on, guys. shortly afterward, harry reid tried to diffuse the issue again. let's listen. >> this debate that's going on
dealing this issue of contraception is a rule that hasn't even been made final yet. there's not a rule. everybody should calm down. let's see what transpires. >> i'm sorry. those are the moves that people that don't like what's happening. >> this rule is not going to go into effect. they couldn't find compromised language to go forward. they will because given the opposition on the republican side and with people like tim cain. >> the current chairman of the caucus. >> the administration is going to have to backtrack. the question is how far? >> a couple people out on this issue. tim cain now running in a head to head battle. there's some disagreement out front with the president and say the exemption for religious employers needs to be brought.
it includes tim kaine. john larson, who is the chairman of the national kau cushion on the floor of the house. john kaine said "i think they made a broad enough religious employer exemptions." >> i was on the conference call with the white house on december 3rd urging them not to do this. i thought it was wrong and an infringement of the religious rights in the constitution. they went ahead and did it any way. >> the chairman said i believe that further flexibility needs to be granted to religiously affiliated organizations. john heilemann, this isn't about
birth control coverage in your health care plans. for example, governor kaine called them out to make sure we know that. it's about whether there should be an exemption for churches and other religious groups that don't believe in birth control. >> well, look. i watched it on our network last night. i watched david boise make a compelling argument about why they are wrong. why the people who think there should be an exemption, it doesn't raise an issue. it's about an employment law. the same laws can apply. they are not exempt from tax laws or discrimination laws. all those things should be applied. there's some part of the president that saw this as a constitutional scholar might and thought on the merits, he was right. >> he makes that case. does he include churches?
>> he does. he's saying employers. employers must abide by employment laws. >> he's going further than the president on this then. he says in other words you can go into a convent and say you must buy this kind of insurance? >> i don't know that. what he was saying is that this rule as applied to employers -- again -- i think that's not the question. the question is is this a problem? the white house handled it badly. we're seeing the implications of that play out. if you're going to take a controversial position and you had people like joe biden warning you there's going to be a plolitically-sensitive matter it's crazy to not have introduced this in a way with a lot more explanation than letting it get out there and start this controversy so it could be defined by
conservatives in the way it has been defined and the way the catholic church reacted to it without laying the groundwork. that was a huge mistake and they are paying the costs of making that mistake i think. >> it's a tricky matter. susan your thoughts in terms of covering this politically. people come from different backgrounds. i'm catholic and i know after 16 years of schooling, growing up in the convent, i know that world. that's my world. and i know how people believe in the right of the church to make these decisions. now we can disagree with that in terms of our personal lives. some catholics say i want to use birth control. in you look in the pews, there's no families of 8 or 12. they are families of three and four. the priests look out and see that. but should the priests be forced to do something they believe is wrong? >> this issue is important to some catholics and socially-conservative catholics.
but i actually think it's an issue that's broader than just kath lcatholic catholics. people who aren't religious want to expect religion. do you want to respect the rights of employees, but surely there's some other answer than the rule they have come up with. >> i tried not to take a position on this to try to make sure both sides are heard. it seems there ought to be a way to allow women, they have more rights and deserve to get them. can they go to work knowing they can have birth control pills if they want. if they want birth control, they should get it all. the question is what does it say on the documents that the church signs? they don't want to say something that says we're giving it to you free. they want something to protect them so it's the decision of the
patient and not the church. that's all they want. i hope. >> they spent a lot more time studying these issues. there's this hawaii model that seems to kind of thread that needle so that people feel like religion is respected but the rights of women are also considered. >> let's talk about how it happened. the former governor of kansas, a politician as much as anybody. hardly a liberal. she's not from the west side of new york. she apparently had the support from the president. this got broadened into a discussion with pelosi and women's rights groups. why did it become such a big issue? it's only a small group of people compared to the larger group of women. why did this become a national discussion all l these months? >> i don't know. >> why is everybody involved in
this? >> for a lot of people, there's a point of principle. and i think on both sides. >> if we had read two weeks ago there's going to be a religious exemption for churches and colleges, they are going to be exempt from this requirement that you get it paid for without a copay. would anybody have raised hell? >> i think @ economy has gotten better, and things like susan g. komen controversy comes up -- >> would there have been an uproar like we're getting now if the decision had gone the other way in terms of the exemption? >> i don't know. i go back to the point i made before. it's amazing to me it took two or three days to point out this is the law of the land in 28 states already. >> it's not. those requirements are not the same as this. i have gone through this. that's what the white house is
pointing out. there's copays involved. >> would it have been a controversy the other way? yes. the white house needs -- they need women voters on their side too. that's why it's tricky. >> directory gets it. the convent exempted. then you go across the street to the same janitors working at the catholic school, do they not get exempted? father judge high school. you go across the street, these are the same people working in both places. how do you decide this? do you exempt grade schools and high schools but not colleges? i wish there was thought into this. thank you, john heilemann and susan page. >> in the eyes of some republicans, president obama has gone from being a radical christian to a secret muslim now to a secular of the french revolution seeking to overthrow
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welcome back to "hardball." can republicans get their attack on obama straight? when he was running back in 2008, they went after him for his ties to the christian pastor jeremiah wright. remember that? then came the birther conspiracies and accusations he was secretly a muslim. then many prominent republicans stayed pleasantly silent, others stoked the flanks. now they are attacking his antichristian and hostile to all religion period. they portray the president as the other. we'll get into that with tony perkins and joan walsh. thank you so much. i want you all to watch this. we talked about the rhetoric already. rick santorum drew an analogy between president obama's policies today regarding birth control and the catholic church.
we just had that fight. and then the french revolution. let's watch. >> they are taking faith and crushing it. why? why? when you mar januarial liez faith in america, when you remove the pillar of god-given rights, then what's left? it's the french revolution. it's a government that gives you rights. what's left are no unailable rights. what's left is a government that will tell you who you are, what you'll do, and when you'll do it. what's left is france, became the guillotine. ladies and gentlemen, we're a long way from that. but if we do and follow the path of president obama and his overhostility to faith in
america, then we are headed down that road. >> tony, are they your pictures? i think of the tail of two cities and the guillotine and the bad guys and good guys. and all that. does that come back to you when you watch this fight over birth control in the catholic church? are we that too far to the armageddon? >> i just watched that two weeks ago. i think the point there is that the french revolution was driven by secular platform. what we see, the policies from this administration, and going back to what you said in your opening, i don't make judgments about the president's faith, but i make clear analysis of his policies, and his policies have been hostile towards religion. there is an effort to push it from the public square. >> where has he done this? besides this debate we have just
had, which is a tricky debate. where else has he shown hostility towards religion? >> well, we actually -- there's been a similar case going on with the eoc. a catholic university was forced to participate in contraception kovrm for their employees. you had the national labor board that ruled that xavier university was not catholic enough. we have seen reverend graham disinvite disinvited to the pentagon. >> i wouldn't ib violent him either. franklin graham is a disgrace. i don't think he's the typical christian minister, do you? with his comments on islam and his comments of partisanship? >> he was going to a national day of prayer event.
you look at the work that he's done in helping muslims, nonmuslims around the world, it's quite amazing. but you look at what happened before christmas where the military, the walter reed medical center banned the bible. you see these policies just coming out, trickling out. you see this past weekend same issue, but you had the military chaplains were censored in what they could talk about in terms of this contraceptive issue. so there is this flow. >> so you believe the president of the united states told people they couldn't bring the bible into walter reed? that's what it just sounded like you said. >> it came from his administration. we actually try ied to find out. we asked for a freedom of information act request to try to find out. members of congress have looked into it as well. >> a person can't bring a bible
into walter reed? >> that was the stated policy. >> i think it was a rule about proftizing. you can't bring him a bible. >> that was what it stated. absolutely. >> okay. that's a distortion. you can't bring a bible? you're saying a person can't bring a bible into walter reed? you're honestly saying that? >> i have the memo. >> i'll be happy to send it to you. >> i want to see where it says i can't bring a bible. >> this is getting absurd. this absurdity that it's the frempbl revolution.
we're all throwing religion. i think that's overreached like a lot of things are today. >> chris, this is crazy talk. it's crazy talk. and i just want to touch on a couple things that tony said. first of all, this president has celebrated the national day of prayer. he's gone to court to defend it. that's one thing. second of all, he has expanded the office of faith-based initiatives, and he has also expanded his secular base by extending the policy who left taxpayer funding discriminate against people who don't practice that faith they can even not hire people like single moms or gay men who practice things against the church. obama went along with that. he issued an executive order. really deeply of fending his base. he also put stimulus money into churches through the office of faith-based initiatives. the catholic charity said he's
done more for faith-based initiatives than president bush, who started and expanded the program. so this notion that this president is against christianity or against faith is propostrous. he is a christian and has supported christianity. he's bucked his base on these issues at many turns. >> there's a big difference in a lot of space between a thee democrat and believing a president should impose his religious believes and someone who is antireligious. let's talk about santorum here. you think santorum is legitimate? santorum went into the senate floor with two other senators and played chaplain that night. laying hands on it going on here. a religious crusade for the president of the united states. he was the guy that brought this session intervening in the schiavo case in florida, which cost him his seat and played
chaplain. don't you think that's overreach? >> no. you're talking about you see this administration using its power to impose this ideology and extract allegiance from the public. the catholic bishops have been providing help to sex trafficking. they rank the highest out of the career department of health and hun services rated their services best. yet the political apoint tees of this administration refused to give them a contract because they would not refer to abortions. this administration has a clear agenda on these issues and they do not hesitate to discriminate towards organizations based on their religious views. >> that means they are it
anti-religious. >> well, look. why you have the public so worked up over this is you have 62% of protestants and 62% of catholics. >> the majority of catholics support the president on this. this was a controversial issue. >> no, they don't. >> in every poll i have seen. in the polling. it's not the 98% who use contraception. it's the majority between 50 and 60% who support the administration on this. so i don't want to relitigate that. you had a great panel about this. >> tony, do you think this president is a muslim? >> no. >> why do people like rick santorum standby -- >> my people? >> santorum. right in front of his face accused the president of being a
muslim. and he says nothing about it. >> i don't know. the things that we have said have always been about the president's policies. that's what we can clearly analyze. i don't know if he's accepted christ. if he says he has, that's between him and god. what's between him and are the policies he pushes and those policies are an thet call to most religious views. especially to catholics on this issue. >> it's a hot issue. thank you tony perkins and joan walsh. thank you for coming on. up next, betty white says she e can't stop playing the birthday message president obama said to her. betty white has been around since our family got a tv set. i'm not knocking it. it's extraordinary. that's ahead. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. [ male announcer ] imagine facing the day
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. cue the music. we have a preview of what's to come when the president hits the campaign trail in full swing. the official campaign play list. the music you'll be hearing at the obama events this year. it may have been in the works for awhile. but here's one that's likely to provide additional inspiration. ♪ i am so in love with you . >> the rest of the list is extensive including "love you like i do." come a long way from this one from a few years back. ♪ don't stop thinking about
tomorrow ♪ ♪ don't stop it will soon be here ♪ >> by the way, no campaign for president likes a great campaign song. next up, a birthday to remember. when betty white celebrated her 90th birthday last month, president obama marked the occasion with a birthday message for her. >> dear betty, you look so fantastic and full of energy, i can't believe you're 90 years old. in fact, i don't believe it. that's why i'm writing to ask if you will be willing to produce a cop copy of your long-form birth certificate. happy birthday no matter how old you are. ♪ thank you for being a friend >> she's still reliving the
experience. let's hear it from her. >> do you believe what he did? he broke me up, i never met him, but i'm a tremendous fan of his. a twinkle in his eye, i still can't believe it. i play it over and over again. that kind of sense of humor and the fact he would take the time to do that, it really blew me away and made me laugh and still makes me laugh. that's a way to celebrate your birthday. >> talk about good genes. she's been on television since our family got a tv. up next, mitt romney has big problems republicans aren't enthusiastic about this guy. and conservatives don't trust the guy, obviously. that's all ahead. progressives will enjoy this segment coming up. it's the disaster situation. they have a guy out front they don't like. you're watching "hardball" on msnbc. [ male announcer ] we know you don't wait
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i'm hampton pearson with your cnbc market wrap. the dow rises 6.51 points. the number of americans filing first time jobless claims fell by 15,000 to 358,000, the second-lowest level in four years. mie commodity prices are hurting business at pepsi co. the beverage giant is cutting costs and eliminating 8,700 jobs worldwide. apple shares hit a record high after the announcement of the launch of an ipad 3. now back to "hardball." there's no such thing as
correlation in politics. it's not easy to get the nomination. it's not easy to be elected president. this is a testing approach. so far, we're doing pretty well. >> welcome back to "hardball." that's what the guy who is losing looks like. if anything, the gop race is more in the state of flux following rick santorum's wins two nights ago. more concerning for the governor, are the republicans worrying about his campaign. "conservatives don't trust mr. romney in part because he gives them little reason to do so. he seems to retreat at the first sound of a liberal moral argument. this means he'd play defense against president obama, who is distilling his campaign to a moral defense of taxing the rich and government redistributive justice."
the "wall street journal" editorial page, all the way to tampa florida. david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." and howard fineman is an msnbc analyst. three strikes you're out. where's he stand? >> he's not closing the deal with conservatives. he's also not closing the deal with big names in the republican party who don't just knock him as "the wall street journal" did because he can't be trusted, but because he doesn't have a broad campaign with big ideas meant to deal with big problems. >> why is he held back from anything but the alternative? >> i think what he's doing now is cautious, tactical play here. he realizes that he thought he could stay above for a long time. now he has to rip the guy's face-off here. >> he did that to gingrich,
which was an easy mark. gingrich had all this baggage. if he turns his guns now on rick santorum, is the public going to go, wait a minute. are we going to let him do it to another guy who is fairly clean? >> first of all, mitt romney's popularity numbers, his general approval numbers across the country have plummeted. he used to get 60%. now he's in the 40s. it's hurt him to begin with. rick santorum isn't a famous-enough guy with enough famous flaws to merit it. everybody knew about newt gingrich. people are going to say you're attacking poor rick santorum who is having a laying on of hands in the church in texas. it's a richer target. i was just at the conservative political action committee meeting here in washington. it's going on for four days. i was struck by the fact that,
first of all, there aren't a lot of signs or buttons for any of the candidates. it's a big crowd. there are a lot of people there. a lot of kids there. it's a great social thing for conservatives now. but you felt in a way the presidential campaign in general, mitt romney in particular, are not attached to what is really kind of the wood stock of the conservative movement. >> that's the question. i think tomorrow at 1:00, he hits those people. does he go back to his stance of ta taking on obama one more time, just blasting the president? >> he has to do more. i talked to some of these activists who are speaking at this gathering. the mistake here is that somehow the anti-obama riff is enough. we see it. >> they thought that? >> it's not enough. you look at who is showing up in colorado and minnesota and the other contests. the numbers are down. why? because there's not intensity for somebody. this is part of the problem. of course, conservatives don't like obama and wants to run an
anti-obama, but what is he for? there's something about the clint eastwood ad thing this week. americans want to do something big. is he a campaign. >> why doesn't he run that? >> he doesn't know what to say. >> everybody we have known that has done well in politics, left and right, ronald began said we can do so much better. >> ronald reagan was an optimistic who made everybody feel, in the conservative movement for sure, feel excited about the conservative agenda for the country. feel it was an optimistic thing. it was going to get the country going again. you don't sense that in anything other than a mechanical way. >> he has 59 points about how to make the economy better. they talked about that. they have to find a way to articulate a more conservative message. >> here comes a new biography on
the guy, a personal tale. it's the time he spent as a mormon minister. he was yesterday in atlanta speaking. >> in my church, we don't have a professional ministry. so people are asked to serve as the minister or the pastor of their congregation from time to time. i had a privilege of doing that for ten years. in that capacity, i had a chance to work with people who lost their jobs in some cases or were facing other financial distress. i found those circumstances were not just about money or numbers, but they were about lives and emotions. sometimes marriages suffered. sometimes people became depressed. being out of work a long time is a real threat and challenge to human happiness. and i feel this president has let us down. >> what job is he running for? what was that an application for? >> in fairness to him --
>> we don't do in fairness to him. >> the romney campaign is locked in their headquarters saying how do we humanize this guy? how do we make a narrative of his life that comports with the average american? the power point thing doesn't work. so on the personal level, he's been afraid of the mormon thing because it's the mormons. but people who know him well and who know about his work as a leader in the mormon church, wherein fact he had to get involved with the emotions of people, it's a very starring thing. but they should have thought of that by now. >> i don't know that it's too late. i think that's an important message. >> that's the core of who he is. >> is he still the favorite? >> yes. >> yes. >> thank you. a little slower there. up next, what kind of president has barack obama been in his
first three years of office? talking about an article just out. a big thing on the president. it's very important for people to catch up on the depth of this guy's administration. this is "hardball" on msnbc. even ragu users chose prego. prego?! but i've been buying ragu for years. [ thinking ] i wonder what other questionable choices i've made? [ '80s dance music plays ] [ sighs ] [ male announcer ] choose taste. choose prego. your finances can't manage themselves. but that doesn't mean they won't try. bring all your finances together
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is he a pawn in the game? he joins us now to answer. what's the answer? >> the answer is he's becoming more of a master. one of the premises i start with is every president comes in flawed in various ways. you and i worked for jimmy carter. but they have limitations. they can't do all the things. but do they get better? he says he's getting better. in the way he handles the congress, you can see more sophistication about the zero sum game of politics. he seems to be more comfortable making economic arguments, which was his weak point. in foreign policy, he's had a wise view all the way along. >> how do you explain the fact that a guy i supported and so many other people did because he was against the iraq war and seemed like a '60s guy who had real sensitivity about us becoming too imperialistic. yet he's been aggressive in
surging in afghanistan. but being also a very effective in getting the bad guy and bin laden. >> also in dealing with china. he's be effective person in having a china policy. on things like drones and guantanamo, this is a question for us to explore over the years. there's this poll in presidential power. you can do so many things in presidential power without all this interference from the congress, from the press, from all the rules. >> the rich melon of foreign policy to bite into it. you don't have to deal with senator mitch mcconnell who is out to kill you basically every day. >> let me ask you how the president learns. i don't want to get into this catholic church issue. how the president builds his circle of knowledge. the president of the united states you can technically call out anybody you want. you can read anything you want. how does he know how to approach a tough call, whether to stand up, the exemption for religious organizations on an issue like women's health. >> there are people who take in engine face to face interactions. fdr was a master of that.
bill clinton in various ways, notion his analytical taking things in by reading. it appears obama has two modes of strength. one is strictly reading. and the other is sort of executive-type meetings. i didn't write about in this article, believe it or not there some are things i left out. but a friend of mine who is a successful business executive has dealt with him and said he has good managerial temperament. he can run a meeting well. official meetings and reading things on paper. but the kind of broad osmosis from -- >> no bull sessions like bill clinton. no sitting around late at night, invite something -- you are laughing because he just doesn't do it. he'd never invite a couple of senators over and say let's talk about this late at night. >> bill clinton late at night would do all kinds of things. they involve human contact. obama seems to be more of a loner. >> rahm emmanuel said he'd be calling people at 3:00 in the morning. i know he has -- i'm hearing things from around him that he
likes to duel with people. he'll be dueling with tom friedman in his head or dueling with david brooks of "the times." or robert kagan, a piece he writes in "the new republic." that mental game thing going on in his head. >> that makes sense for a former law professor. a former editor of the law review. there was a joke when his excellent first book "dreams of my father" came out. if things had gone right for him he could have become a writer. he's our kind of people from our world of liking these mental games which is part of the job of the president. >> let me ask you what you think is missing. what's missing for him to be a great rooseveltian or to the extent a reagan-type success transformational president. but if he really wants to move this country, get the 60 votes in the senate when he needs it or break the filibuster, what does he need to do he's not doing? >> there's a challenge. the issue on which he rose to prominence, the iraq war, is part of his natural register. war and peace, america's role in the world and divisions in the
country. what ended up being the big issue was economics which is not his natural -- fdr and lbj and clinton in different ways could talk to the economic distress. that's not his natural voice and find something way to sound natural or authentic. >> i think he's found a voice. since september, he's been talking about jobs. he talks about the payroll tax cut as an important way to stimulate more jobs. he stopped trying to compete with the republicans on debt reduction. that seems to be a political, smart move. >> i agree. the end of this piece, it's a great memo that sam popkin found to harry truman in similar circumstances with a dead opposition congress saying here is the tool you have. they are going to try to beat you on everything, stall every appointment, but you have to speak for the whole people. and that's what obama has been doing. >> it's an easy mark if you think the congress has about a 10% approval rating now. he'll run against congress, run against a do nothing congress and run against unfairness and taxation and he may well win.
>> i agree. the odds are in his favor now but that's why we're in the business because things so much could change. >> thanks, james fallows. get it somewhere. "atlantic magazine." let me finish with how things so quickly in this political world. you are watching "hardball" only on msnbc. change engineering in dubai, aluminum production in south africa, and the aerospace industry in the u.s.? at t. rowe price, we understand the connections of a complex, global economy. it's just one reason over 75% of our mutual funds beat their 10-year lipper average. t. rowe price. invest with confidence. request a prospectus or summary prospectus with investment information, risks, fees and expenses to read and consider carefully before investing. uh, trouble with a car insurance claim. ah, claim trouble. [ dennis ] you should just switch to allstate, and get their new claim satisfaction guarantee. hey, he's right man. [ dennis ] only allstate puts their money where their mouth is. yup.
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are under control, pop, everything goes wild. tuesday night, just two nights ago, began with mitt romney owning the republican presidential nomination. by night's end, he'd been beat badly. beaten in all three states where he was running. all that money of his, all that power of the republican wait your turn crowd, all those media claims that said things were just swell for him. guess what. the voter had something to say. well, i'm so happy that voters don't listen to the money men. don't listen to the power what they are supposed to do. don't listen to us on tv. by that i mean people paid to tell you what's going on. what's going to happen. the decisions that's have already been made for you. no, people don't listen to anyone. they just go in those voting booths and do what makes them feel good about themselves. earnest hemingway once described his moral code as really quite simple. good is what you feel good after what you have done. bad is what you don't feel good after. i don't think people feel good after voting for newt gingrich. just too much stuff there. after voting for mitt romney, believe it or not, it's even
worse. they don't feel anything. the same thing goes for this matter involving the church and birth control. if anyone in the white house told the president this thing was cooked, they were wrong. the job of people in politics, the pros is to warn the boss of trouble ahead. this democratic coalition, if it is to be a protest faction can afford to be 35% or 40% of the country. that's the liberals. if it is to be a governing coalition it needs to be at least 55%. and that's what it takes to govern. it takes 60 senators, remember, to get anything through the congress, to get anything done. to keep that coalition together takes care, especially in an election year that may well be decided by a few percentage points. remember, president obama was elected with just 53% of the country. he has done important historic work like health care that could cost him much of that 3% that took him across that finish line. he can't afford to give up 1 or 2 more points from iffy voters who tend to